Senate to Investigate Banks over Excessive Charges

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To summon CBN, NNPC, DPR, others

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate has beamed its searchlight on the bogus charges allegedly paid by bank customers as it resolved yesterday to investigate commercial banks over their collection of what it termed excessive and illegal charges.

The lawmakers have also resolved to investigate the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Department of Petroleum Resources over Nigeria’s crude oil exports account.

It has therefore mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to cause an investigation into illicit and excessive bank charges by commercial banks operating in the country.

The upper legislative chamber also urged the CBN to look into the complaints of Nigerians in this regard with a view to reviewing downward all charges on their bank accounts.

These resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion entitled “Urgent need to investigate and review illicit and excessive charges by Nigerian banks on customers’ accounts”, sponsored by Senator Abba Moro.

Moro had noted that such charges and deductions range from bank SMS charges, intra-bank transfer charges in the sum of N52.50, Automated Teller Machine Card renewal charges, and account maintenance charges in the sum of N93.13.

He expressed concern that these charges had caused an uproar within the public as Nigerians have expressed dissatisfaction and displeasure over such excessive deductions which they feel are fraudulent and targeted at further impoverishing Nigerians.

He recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria had in April 2017 revised card maintenance charges from N100 annually to N50 monthly saying “this means that every debit or credit card holder will pay N600 annually”.

Moro added that, “these charges being deducted from customers’ accounts by Banks have caused uproar within the public as Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction and displeasure over such excessive deductions which they feel are fraudulent and targeted at further impoverishing Nigerians.”

He recalled that in April 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria revised the card maintenance charges in the new guide released from N100 annually to N50 monthly.

“According to the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIESS), the central data base for banking transactions in the country showed that as at September 30, 2016, there were 29.4 million active cards being used by the 63 million active bank customers.

“Thus, bank customers in Nigeria will pay not less than N1.462 billion to Banks as card maintenance charges every month, totaling about N17.544 billion in a year”.

In a related development, the Senate is to investigate the activities of the CBN, the NNPC and the DPR over Nigeria’s crude oil exports account.

It expressed concerns that there was no congruence in the data for Nigeria export earnings published by various relevant federal government agencies such as the CBN, DPR, NNPC and NBS among others with those published by some international institutions like OPEC.

The upper legislative chamber therefore mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to conduct an investigative hearing, as a matter of urgency, to determine the exact amount of crude oil and gas, and non-oil export proceeds un-repatriated since the inception of the Act in April 1996 to 2019.

The committee is to ascertain why relevant government agencies keep having conflicting data of same product value published in Nigeria with those published by OPEC.

The committee was directed to engage experts to conduct forensic reconciliation of the export proceeds of crude oil, gas and non-oil export into the Exporters Domiciliary Accounts since the inception of the programs in 1996 with a view to ascertain the exact amount due for repatriation.

The Senate also directed the CBN to forthwith comply strictly with the provision of the Act and the guidelines for maximum benefit to Nigeria.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion on the need to investigate Pre-Shipment Inspection of export activities in Nigeria with respect to Non-Repatriation of crude oil export proceeds in line with PSiE Act Cap P26 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 sponsored by Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf and 22 other senators.

The Senate also yesterday urged the federal government to assist the immediate evacuation and resettlement of affected citizen from the flood-prone and ravaged areas to temporary displaced persons camp.

This was just as it urged Government to dredge the Rivers Niger and Benue to reduce flooding and facilitate navigation of the rivers.

It also urged the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to undertake as a matter of urgency, a hydrological study of the levels of siltation of Nigerian dams and waterways with a view to effecting remedial interventions.